An intravenous line or an IV is typically used in patients when a fluid or medication needs to be administered quickly into the body through veins. Although it is a common procedure, it’s not actually required to be given to a woman in labour. In fact, an IV in labour is an intervention rather than a necessity, during the normal process of giving birth. Which means, if a mum doesn’t need it but is still given an IV, it can lead to unnecessary complications.
Still, there are several benefits of using an IV and it may be necessary at times, but there are several health problems as well that outweigh the benefits. Which is why it is extremely important that expectant mothers should know about IV during labor pros cons.
What Is An IV Or Intravenous Line?
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An IV is a small plastic catheter inserted into a vein to administer fluids to your body that keep you hydrated. These can also be used to administer fluid-based medications.
An expectant mother can be given an IV before, during or after delivery. It is optional though and depends on the medical practitioner and the condition of the patient.
It also depends on the location where you are giving birth. A healthy mother is less likely to receive an IV in Singapore but is more commonly used in the USA.
However, it is the care provider’s decision to order an IV on a case-to-case basis.
Pros Of IV During Labour
There are a number of reasons for using an IV during labour:
1. The mother stays hydrated during labour, especially when stopped from eating or drinking fluids from the mouth. This is the medical practitioner’s call depending on the condition.
2. Caregivers not only use an IV to keep the mother hydrated but also for delivering medicines. The needles are not repeatedly struck either, which can be both –painful and annoying.
3. An IV will also allow you to take an epidural during labour. An epidural is a local anaesthetic that is administered around the spinal nerves in your lower back. It is essentially done to block the pain from labour contractions and is quite effective during birth.
4. An IV is necessary if the mother is having a Caesarean section, where she will need to be given general anaesthesia.
Cons Of IV During Labour
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While an IV does have its benefits, the list of cons is far longer and more complex in comparison:
1. Attaching an IV to the mother restricts her movements. Most nurses will attach one to the forearm. This means the mother’s hand will be sore and difficult to move around. It will also keep you in a less than comfortable position.
It is extremely important that the expectant mother feels safe and comfortable during the birth process to release birthing hormones that help them during labour.
2. A more lasting concern is overhydration. Using an IV during long hours of active labour can cause swelling in hands and feet, as well as swollen breasts. This has a more lasting impact as the newborn is not able to latch on to the breasts and will have feeding complications.
3. New mothers also face severe stress on the bladder post-childbirth due to the use of IV fluids. A mother’s body already has extra fluids from the pregnancy. However, the addition of IV fluids adds more pressure to the body. By extension, the bladder is working hard to lose all that extra liquid in days following childbirth.
4. A recent study concluded that the baby will lose weight post-birth if the mother is given fluids during labour. The study suggests that along with the mother, the baby will also retain some of that extra fluid after birth, which makes the weight loss appear more substantial.
When Is An IV Not Needed During Labour?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends offering fluids by mouth and eliminating the routine use of IV during labour.
Expectant mothers need to hydrate to have the energy needed during labour. So unless specified, you can drink clear liquids like water, juice, carbonated drinks, clear tea, and black coffee, or as recommended by the doctor.
What If I Do Not Want An IV During Labour?
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It is important that you speak to your caregiver about not wanting an IV during the labour process. At the end of the day, it is your body and you can choose the route you want to take to bring the baby into this world.
The caregiver needs to explain the benefits and risks of using an IV during childbirth. In most cases, the doctors will recommend one if it is medically necessary. But communication is key to getting your desired birth plans in motion. However, it’s also a good idea to be informed and open to urgent changes as needed, to bring your bub into this world.
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